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-Droid Maxx-


Products can’t make you happy, but the right ones can

really enhance your experience.

When it comes to smartphones, here’s our view:  It’s a Tool to Get Life Done.

The gee whiz toy aspect has passed and as we adapt to using smartphones in our lives, it’s highest value is in helping us live and work more efficiently and effectively. 

The marketing world needs to keep creating new “Wow” features to get our attention, but the truth is, most people use only a few core functions of this “tool” to help them navigate through their day.

Why? Because few of us have the time to go deep and explore, research, learn and test the mountain of features, functions and apps that come with them. (I got tired just writing the tedious process). 

It’s not about the ” Next Big Thing,” it’s about designing an assistant that has a brilliant integration of fast, quickly understood tools to enhance our ability to get things done, inside the life we choose to live.

Like a partner with great skills.

That’s why our research always begins by identifying the core needs most users find make a difference to them in real life situations.

Then we search for only the products that most closely meet those needs and in some cases, cleverly expand upon them.

Products with the best balance of Benefits, Performance and Human Design for their type.

So in Smartphones….

 

Enter The Droid Maxx: Droid Maxx CoverPhoto1 50 clipped rev 1 Best Smartphone: Droid Maxx   The Power To Get Things Done

The Droid Maxx, by Motorola /Google (at the time of it’s design), is currently our #1 choice for a smartphone that most effectively accomplishes that.

Why? Because it delivers and integrates the greatest number of powerful “real life” solutions to help you get things done quickly, efficiently and in a very human friendly way. And because its operating system is flexible, the Maxx can be easily fine tuned to your changing needs.

The Droid Maxx comes with a much lower amount of “marketing partner” App clutter and limited use engineering gimmickry and gives you, in our experience, the most versatile operating system for a smartphone so far.

The Droid Maxx sits under the “Gee Wiz” radar, so you may not have heard much about it.

But shortly you won’t  understand why you didn’t know more about what a powerful personal assistant this smartphone uniquely is. 

So let’s get on the inside of what the Droid Maxx can actually do for you.

 

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Real Life Criteria: What Our Research Found A  Smartphone Should Have

We found these 11 features to be the core abilities a great smartphone should have:

#1. Battery Life - Because if your phone is dead, it can’t assist you. Poor battery life also adds unnecessary frustration (sometimes panic) to every day. And working plugged into a charger instantly changes your “mobile” into a “land line,” keeping you from being flexible and productive.

#2. A “Large Enough” Screen- You need to be able to easily read any page, quickly fill in forms and accurately touch keyboard keys and webpage buttons. If the form factor is too small, it will continually cause errors and frustration making corrections.

#3. Fast Processing Speed-You need this because voice recognition, webpages, video, etc., especially in combination,  require fast, heavy data lifting to provide the experience of normal interaction at “life speed.”

#4. Accurate, Responsive Voice Control- Because this allows “Thought to Action” functionality when you want it. (More on this shortly.)

#5. Fast Access to Quality Navigation-Ask it to navigate, tell it the address and go. Then get automatic “faster route available” updates as you drive to avoid the traffic jams you can’t see. 

#6. A High Quality Camera You Can Access Fast- Great moments happen fast. You should have one step to take a quick, quality photo on the fly.

#7. Storage - Photos, texts emails, Apps, documents, music all eat up space. If you can’t store them, you can’t use them.

#8. Slim, Easy To Carry Size-It needs to slip into a pocket, purse, sport coat pocket,or  jeans with minimal effort or bulge.

#9. Access To Thousands of App Choices – So you can quickly add more useful functionality (and Fun!)

#10. Durable, Life Rugged, Construction.-So it survives your crazy life.

#11. Broad Carrier Coverage and Support Within Your Primary Travel Areas- Having to say “Can you hear me now?” the fewest times, coupled to an accessible, quality customer support network. 

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How the Droid Maxx Matches Up

 

The Droid Maxx is a breakthrough when it comes to offering powerful core features and integrating them effectively to solve our real life needs. 

Here’s what makes the Droid Maxx great:

Battery Life

Until you’ve lived with a phone that easily makes it through a day of your normal use without a panic attack about forgetting your charger, you likely don’t understand why paying a bit more for this feature alone is worth it. 

For example:

* When you’re sitting at an early evening team game knowing  your kids are going to call for a pick up and your battery’s in the red zone.

*When you’ve made a lot of work calls throughout the day, you’re client’s calling back with an important answer and your phone goes dark.

At the time of this writing, there is no smartphone on the market from any manufacturer that has the native ability to consistently operate through about 18-24 hrs. of regular, real life use without being charged. Not One…  

Except the Droid Maxx.

In our real life testing over the last 5 months, we consistently have experienced 18-20 hours per day of real, working time between charges, under frequent, varied use.

What this means is you consistently make it though your day without interim charging.

And you get this power in a very slim profile.

 

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How we measured battery life:

We use the Droid’s “Time On Battery” counter to determine how long we have gone since last plugged in (this is displayed under the “Battery” section under “Settings.”)

Then we add the estimated remaining time using DU Battery Saver (a well designed 3 stage charging / battery monitor app we have used successfully for over 3 years) and add them together.

We cross checked this by recording (using a watch) when we unplugged from the charger and observing if the estimated”Remaining Time” DU Battery Saver estimated appeared to be reasonably correct based upon our normal use. (But remember, if DU Battery says you have 6 hrs. remaining and then you use a high drain service like watching a 1 hr. video, it will be likely down to 2+ hrs. immediately after. It measures remaining time based upon the state it is currently in.)

How we tested real life usage:

Once we select our research based choice, we then use and live with the phone for at least a month of daily use; it’s navigation, apps, making regular phone calls, taking pictures, texting, watching an occasional video.  

We unplug from the supplied charger about 6:30 every morning and plug back in about 11:00 pm (16.5 hrs). With the Maxx we often still see a “time remaining” of about 6-8 hrs. almost everyday.

This is the first phone I’ve ever used unplugged for navigation for about 1 hour per day while making touch free phone calls when navigating in my car (using no external bluetooth technology) and still make it through a day.

However, the Droid Maxx is not power invincible. 

For example, if you take a lot of pictures with any phone, and the Droid Maxx is no exception, it is possible to drain even the Maxx’s battery significantly. We found that picture taking with phones drained the battery faster than other functions. This is because the main screen remains fully on and the flash and active auto-focusing are all power hungry.

Navigation is also a significant battery drain. Of course, when you are in the car, the best plan is to plug in your phone when navigating, so you’re not needlessly draining the battery when you don’t need to. Navigation drains battery because the main screen often remains on full time, along with it constantly updating GPS and using Wifi (for greater accuracy).

As a rule of thumb, if the main screen remains on continuously, (like when watching videos, using navigation without being plugged in, etc.) your battery is being depleted at a significantly increased rate.

You just get more time with the Maxx than you would with any other phone.

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“Real Life Useful” Technology in the Droid Maxx

What’s Keeping the Lights On:

* Motorola Innovation#1: The Droid Maxx has a 3500 mA built in battery.

Between the bigger battery capacity and greater energy efficiency, we find the Maxx gets to the 20-24 hr. potential range consistently. And it’s “Standby Time” (inactive but on) is days.

For those of us who sleep at least 4 hrs a day, (long enough to recharge the phone), 18-20 hrs of daily use works fine, plugging in each night.

FYI: Motorola just introduced a new “Turbo Charger” that claims to provide 6-8 hrs. of charge in 15 mins. Only certain models can take advantage of this new device, but according to Motorola Tech Support, this new charger is compatible with the Droid Maxx model. We’ll be testing it soon and will do a Tech Update when we have lived with it for a few weeks time.

To help you retain more of your battery capacity over time, no matter what Android phone you have, here’s the only battery saver App we’ve found that is very well engineered, doesn’t interfere with your phone’s normal functioning and produces real improvements in battery life.

The App is called “DU Battery Saver.” It incorporates “Optimization” features you can quickly use during the day if your battery starts to get low.

But whenever you charge it and your battery is below 30%, it also automatically incorporates a “Healthy Charge” cycle that helps condition your battery to it’s closest full capacity by introducing a three stage charging method. It sets the proper charging cycle depending upon the level of depletion measured when you plug into your Factory charger.

I mention the Factory charger, because, contrary to the popular myth “It fits, so it should be ok”, each manufacturer’s charger voltage is specifically designed to optimize the charge of the battery it was designed to work with. And this varies widely from phone to phone. Yes, most use the now almost universal micro-USB plug, but what’s on the other end determines what voltage/current is delivered and at what rate. 

Too low voltage, the battery never fully charges. Too High voltage, you may get a full charge, but if the phone doesn’t do a good job of regulating the higher input, you could overheat the battery.  In a pinch, you do what you gotta do. But our recommendation is to use the factory charger and stop introducing a charging variable that could shorten the potential life of your battery. 

Also built into the Droid Maxx is engineering that significantly improves energy efficiency, with no detriment to any functionality.

In fact, a few of the Motorola energy saving tricks really improve the speed you can get information from the phone.

Motorola Innovation#2: “Active Display.” Motorola has developed new engineering design methods modeled after DARPA protocols (the government product design think tank that develops “out of the box” solutions to military problems). 

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One of the results of that process featured in the Droid Maxx is called “Active Display” technology.

Motorola realized that the number one battery drain on a smartphone is the screen being on (so you can use it).

But what if you could get updates and status without ever turning on the whole screen?

What if you didn’t even have to unlock it to read messages or updates? 

Motorola’s “Active Display” technology accomplishes that by stealthfully delivering and icon for the alerts you choose silently to your lock screen, only illuminating the specific pixels required to show you that specific information.

If your display is off, when you pick up your phone, an icon circle rises out of the blackness for 4-5 seconds, just long enough for you to read it. 

 

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Then, if you touch and hold the illuminated icon message alert, you can read that message, still without unlocking the phone or having any part of the screen being illuminated, except the pixels relevant to the displayed information or text. Brilliant. 

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Another manufacturer has tried to solve their screen related battery drain problem by introducing a new feature in their phone: Turning your beautiful color screen to Black and White when the battery gets low. ie. taking away one of the key reasons you bought the phone.

For most phones, if you barely make it through the day without running low when it’s new, a year from now, your underpowered battery get’s even less able to serve you.  Because the Droid Maxx starts with more core power, even as it diminishes, you’re still able to go longer than everyone else.

*A “Large Enough” Screen

We’re  all watching the battle of the manufacturer’s to find the optimal screen size for the things we now want to do with our smartphones.

Too small, and we know filing in forms, tapping on touch screen keyboards and trying to click on minute screen buttons, even with pinch and spread technology, where it’s allowed, still makes the interface difficult to use.

The Droid Maxx has a 5″ diagonal screen. From our testing of many different sizes of screens, about 5″ seems, in our real life testing and daily use, to be the “Goldielocks” of size, form and function.

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We compared smartphones from the almost tablet sized Galaxy Note 3, down to the iPhone 5s screen and for keyboard use-ability, significant ease in reading web pages, feeling comfortable to hold in your hand or to your face, the 5″ screen appears to achieve that ideal balance.  

And because the entire Droid Maxx is so thin, it still fits into small purses and pockets well. It also passed my wife’s “little purse” test. She still really likes the phone after about 5 months of using it.

The Droid Maxx runs on the Android operating system, currently called Kit Kat.

Keyboard Flexibility

One of the more common complaints we hear is that the keyboard on a touch screen is too small and doesn’t fit to a variety of hands.

In Android you have the option to customize the keyboard to fit you better. There’s a great App we have used for four years now, over three generations of Android phones.

It allows you to add / change to different keyboards, make larger keys, split the keyboard for two thumbs and optimize almost every aspect, including layout and color of the keyboard. 

It’s called the “Thumb Keyboard” by Beansoft in the Google Play store. It’ll cost about $2.99 to make everything you type easier.

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It also will let you add cursor arrows below the spacebar to quickly move the screen cursor back and forth within a line or jump up and down to other lines.

In my own experience, eliminating the frustration of the “tap to get the blue edit arrow” and then precisely place the cursor when editing is worth the price alone. 

Since this is a smartphone solution review, not an app review, you can learn more about how it works in our Proven App Solutions, that will be published soon under Tech Updates.

*Fast Processing Speed

You smartphone is a sophisticated, miniaturized supercomputer by just 10 years ago standards. Fast processing means your phone can do more for you faster and without it’s thinking time slowing you down. You can read the specs I’ve posted at the end of this review, but most people really don’t care about specs, they only care about results.

The Droid Maxx processing and computing design delivers fast response to your commands. Whether verbal or by touch, it’s just comfortable to use. Enough said.

*Accurate, Responsive Voice Control

I’ve worked with a lot of “voice activated” devices.  Products nobody remembers like ” Butler In A Box,” a home automation system that was supposed to let you control your smart home systems by voice.

Emphasis on “supposed to.” From Dragon Systems software, to Siri and now a specially configured version of Google Now only in the Droid Maxx and Moto X (at time of writing) called “Touchless Control,” the effective use of voice commands is beginning to really work.

Motorola Innovation#3: “Touchless Control.” This result of the Motorola/Google connection has produced the most advanced, fully integrated Voice Control technology I’ve used on a smartphone.

It quite consistently does what you ask it to do (it’s not perfect, but it’s very good) and within a pretty wide scope. You do still need a relatively quiet environment and a good cell connection to get consistent results.

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Both Siri (Apple) and Cortana (Microsoft) versions are also creating a voice command rivalry with Google that will help drive the improvements in voice technology even faster. Each system has it’s own strengths and weaknesses.

But the introduction of “Touchless Control” adds a new level of voice command convenience that is very “real life” useful.

Here’s how it can work in real life:

With my Droid Maxx sitting on the table, or in my hand or mounted in my cars Arkon Smartphone holder, I simply say the unlock phrase that is trained to wake up to my voice saying “Ok Google Now”and Google starts listening for my next question or command.

You spend 1 minute initially training your phone (it prompts you  through the process quickly) to only recognize your voice saying the phrase “Ok Google Now” and your ready to use this functionality.

To help you get started using commands fast, (or to refer to later), you can quickly learn how to best communicate with Touchless Control by simply saying ” Ok Google Now, Help Me” and up comes a help screen with the variety of ways you can ask Google Now to do things. You’ll see that they all are very natural and you learn the approach in a couple of minutes. Nothing awkward or odd. 

But it’s so worth it. 

In daily life, it’s very helpful to simply ask a question about a fact you want to know and immediately have it available, with no typing required.

Of course, just like Siri, you can ask Google Now questions about facts, like “How long is the San Francisco Bay Bridge?” In a couple of seconds Droid responds by showing you on the screen, and many times also telling you verbally.  Fun, but not the real power of Touchless Control. 

The real power of this superior voice technology is in the “partnership” ability it brings to your life.

For example: 

A.) You’re working away at your desk and suddenly remember you have an appointment coming up soon. You just turn to your phone and say “OK Google Now, When’s my next appointment” and without touching the phone, it tells you and pulls it up on the screen. 

B.) You’re planning a day trip and wonder how far it is from point A to point B. You just say: “Ok Google Now, How far is it from Danbury NH to Amesbury MA? In under 5 secs. your phone shows you the map, the time to travel it right now, based upon current traffic conditions and then verbally says ” The drive from Danbury New Hampshire to Amesbury Mass is 83.6 miles.”

Tell me that’s not incredibly useful in real life.  And if you tap the arrow below the 1 hr 36 mins time listing, it opens up the turn by turn written directions for you to scan.  Tap on the blue destination highlighted, and it takes you to your route choices in Google Navigation, ready for you to choose and go.

C.) You just bought beets from a local farm stand. Then you realize you’ve never cooked beets before! You just sneak around the corner and say “Ok, Google Now, how do I cook beets?” A few seconds later up comes multiple ways to cook beets. You’re secret friend just saved you from embarrassment in the kitchen. (I had exactly this situation the other evening.)

D.) You need to get to your next appointment now! You pop your phone in your car holder and say” Ok Google Now, Navigate:  164 Main Street in Falmouth, MA” and in a few seconds (about 5, we timed it) the Maps program begins navigating. And you never touched the phone or typed a letter. (Hands Free Navigation)

E.) Now that you’re driving, you remember you need to make a phone call.

Here’s something really awesome. While the navigation continues to give you you’re ongoing direction cues, you just say “Ok Google Now, Call Bob Johnson on mobile”.

Without interrupting the navigation, your phone makes the call and you get to talk with Bob as your directions continue to be spoken over the speakerphone. If you’re using a bluetooth headset, they never hear the directions being whispered in your ear during the entire conversation. (Hands Free Calling)

Many states are making simply “holding” a phone while you drive illegal (in the North so far it’s: VT (Oct. 2014), NH (07/2015), CT, NJ, NY, MD) with more to come.  (Click Here to check your state’s current status)

Without buying a new car or retrofitting one for a hands free system, you can use a Smartphone car mount (Arkon is what we tested and use) with the Droid Maxx’s “Touchless Control” to help solve the problem.

These are real life needs, solved by well integrated technology.

My car is an older, classic vehicle and I’ve not been willing to risk having the car retrofitted (disassembled) for bluetooth integration. For the first time ever, using nothing more than a good quality windshield mounted phone holder (Arkon), I am hands free in my car.

That is truly awesome.

You can also create an appointment in your calendar by voice, by saying “Ok Google Now, Schedule an appointment with Joe at 3 pm tomorrow.” 

Google Now will immediately show you the appointment and say “Touch to continue,” for you to confirm it’s correct and add it to your Calendar.

And when you tap on the “Add To Calendar” link, you go instantly to the edit screen within that appointment so you can fill in other specific details if you need to. 

Here’s one last suggested application I use all the time:  

If you tend to get absorbed in your work like I do, you could easily ignore the Calendar Meeting alert (which I’ve definitely done).

To assure this won’t happen, you can say: “Ok Google Now, set an alarm for 25 mins. from now (or “a specific time like 2:30 today”) and 25 mins later, (or at the time you set), your alarm is there to kick you out the door, You can’t ignore it, because it doesn’t stop until you physically shut it off.

This also works great for remembering to feed Parking Meters! I just tell my phone to set an alarm ten minutes sooner than the time I put on the meter and it’s saved me many times from an expensive parking ticket. Nice.

If you’re willing to let Google store your contacts in their voice recognition servers, you pick up even more functionality, like Voice Texting or Voice emailing a contact, that won’t fully work unless you give them this additional permission. 

If you go for the whole “Magilla” by opting in for the full “Google Now” functionality, it takes you to another level. Google then “anticipates” what information you need to support getting things done and delivers it to you automatically, based upon what you select for notifications.

This information is delivered to you on “cards” that contain everything from alerting you that traffic is getting heavy and you need to leave for your next scheduled appointment early, to automatically delivering sports scores from your teams or other useful information based upon what you actually look up, read, or make appointments for each day.

But even if you don’t opt in to the full “Google Now,” the Motorola “Droid Maxx” with “Touchless Control” functionality uses the contacts on your phone sufficiently to allow the functions I mentioned to work pretty well. 

*Fast Access to Quality Navigation (a bit on Google Navigation)

Google Navigation continues to improve with every update. It’s true sometimes we lose an individual feature or have to relearn where things are (change is pesky, isn’t it?).  But for it’s occasional missteps, Google Maps is the most powerful, adaptable, continually updated navigation program available to consumers. 

With Google buying Waze, the crowdsourced, “on the spot” feedback navigation system, Google now has the potential to integrate the instant user observational data it was missing. This includes instant notifications of specific accident locations,  police “availability,” “pushed” instant rerouting suggestions based upon real time issues, etc. and making faster Maps data error corrections.

They have already started integrating on the fly alerts, like “Faster Route Available” when traffic conditions suddenly change. 

With comprehensive integration of real time information, Google Maps has been distancing itself from other navigation systems, especially because of its integration into the Google Now personal assistant system.

Finding a balance between benefits and “Big Brother”

Google’s concept is to have technology make life easier for people by having it anticipate our needs and automatically deliver the information necessary to accomplish our daily tasks.

To do this necessitates allowing a level of “Big Brother” that many of us are still (appropriately) concerned about, no matter how “do only good” you believe Google is trying to be.  

Personal information security and the potential for “unfriendlies” to do harm or manipulate our decisions is real.

But it will be a part of our lives as our evolving technology and communications continue to integrate more into our daily routines. With every powerful ability comes the potential to also do harm. But there can also be great benefits to the new resources. So we’ll all keep a watchful eye and try to draw the best from it as we go forward.


*A High Quality Camera

 

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As I do “real life” testing stage with any product, I engage a variety of people in my travels to get their feedback.

I love taking cool pictures and smartphone integrated cameras (even the iPhone so far) still can’t match the wide angle, lens clarity, zoom range or color accuracy of a good quality, purpose built camera. 

But, they keep getting better and carrying two cameras to get that quality for most uses has just been too inconvenient. Especially while skiing or attending events, etc. 

As the megapixel race has made our photos greater in density, and the micro lens and electronics tech continues to improve, the compromise of quality for most peoples use has become increasingly smaller.

In the pixel game, the Droid Maxx has a 10 megapixel camera.

In our tests, shooting in real life, in restaurants, home, outdoors sunny, mountain views, close up plants, wooded areas and selfies, the camera in the Maxx is really quite good.

On a recent ski trip in Utah, the Droid Maxx showed how the blend of convenience (it’s in your pocket), and it’s motion technology (two deliberate horizontal twists of the wrist while holding the phone and your locked phone is now a live camera ready to shoot) can make using it easy.

In the outdoors it took very good depth of field shots.

Pulling the Maxx out of my ski jacket pocket, slipping off one glove (remember Touch Screen needs human touch)  I gave the Maxx a quick “double twist,” and grabbed shots inside the tree glades, shooting downward while standing high in steep bowls,  actually capturing a steepness perspective in the photo, something my previous phones never achieved. (I used to have to tell people, “you can’t tell from the picture, but it really is a 60 degree slope, really!” They never bought it.) 

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Colors also come out quite well, with reds and blues still looking natural.

 

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In low light, like in a restaurant or in a house, it has a very respectable low light capture ability. Not stunning, but better than many phones.

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There are many features you can experiment with that I talk about below.

But here’s the bottom line: With the two twist function on, you pick up your locked phone, twist your wrist twice and in about 2 seconds you’re ready to take a photo. Sight it, touch the screen anywhere and the shot is done. Want to Zoom, Slide you finger from the bottom of the screen (relative to portrait or landscape position) towards the center. Zoomed. Done.

With the flash set to Auto, it will take care of itself. If you don’t want flash, or to activate any of the camera’s settings, swipe the live camera screen from the left edge to the center and out pops a rotating, rainbow-like curved menu. Touch any item to change it’s settings, swipe the menu back out of sight.  This is also where you turn on/off the “Twist To Activate Camera” function.

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Want to check the shot right after you take it? Just touch the right side of the screen and drag your finger towards the center. It shows you your last shot and then gives you the option to open your full photo gallery without ever leaving the app. (Nice.) Swipe back and you’re ready for the next shot. 

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You can also shoot video by taping on the video camera icon at the bottom of the screen. On the same settings arc on the left side, you can also turn on “Slow Motion Video” for a new view of action shots,  HDR for HD recording, Flash Settings, Screen Touch to snap a shot, Panorama Photo Stitching for wide capture shots, Turn on Geo Tagging for adding location info to your shots, Turn Off the camera shutter sound (one of my favorite options. It’s hard to get spontaneous shots when you’re disturbing everyone around you with shutter clicking).

At the bottom of the screen you can touch the icons for switching between photo and video shooting or switch between front or back (selfie) shot cameras.  

*Slim, Easy To Carry Form Factor

No matter what a smartphone can do for you, if it doesn’t fit into where you can keep it with you, it quickly becomes a life irritant. 

The Droid Maxx is about a third of an inch thick. It sides into a small purse, a front jean pocket, inside a sport jacket / suit or coat with barely a bulge.

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If you put a slim, quality case on it, it adds little to the bulk even with the case. As I mentioned, it passed my wife’s small purse test and she uses the Droid Maxx (with a slim full coverage case) now throughout everyday for work and personal uses.

Between the Droid’s Gorilla glass (very scratch resistant glass), Kevlar (bullet proof vest material) back and sides and with a full coverage case on it, you should have a long relationship with your Droid Maxx.

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Speck Candy Shell Grip Case-Black

 

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Slim, contoured acrylic rubber case-Purple

 

Unless you drowned it or crush it.

With the out of pocket replacement cost of a smartphone being $500-$900+ dollars, I recommend insuring it, either with your carrier or by adding a special homeowners insurance rider. Call your company to see what’s available. It could be cheaper than other plans. It will just take time to process the claim and get your check vs sometimes immediate replacement or usually just a few days with the carrier plan. Compare deductibles too.

Now plumbers, roofers and others who’s work life subjects things to abnormally destructive places (kids?) will probably need an Otter Box, or other type of (not slim) vault case, to keep any smartphone a survivor. LifeProof also makes some water sealed cases, if you’re a boater, swimmer, surfer.

Our previous Best Smartphone pick, the Razr Maxx, had the same Gorilla Glass / Kevlar features and I carried it in a slim, Seidio case with no screen protector for over 18 months with no negative effects. (the first phone I ever dared do an extended test this way.) Some very fine screen surface marks and one very small nick that was not visible when the screen was on was all that resulted over the 18 months of very constant use.

Yes, I dropped it a number of times along the way, but the case and the construction saved it. I often carry my phone in my front jeans pocket with the screen against my leg. But I’ve definitely put the phone in my pocket along with my car keys (bad idea), and the phone still looks good. But keys can damage the screen, so try to avoid that combo.

 

Memory-It’s not just what’s inside anymore.  And that can be really good.

* Storage: With 16 gig on board storage in the current version, plus 25 gig of Cloud storage /backup for free from Verizonwireless, you have a lot of room to grow. There is no SD card slot (I know, we all have liked the flexibility of that feature), but the trend is to make storage not be device dependent or chip limited and so we all are having to adapt.

But there are some immediate advantages to external cloud storage: 

This cloud storage system can act as a constant backup for you. And it can allow you to delete photos, etc. off your actual phone to keep it from getting bogged down.

Run your phone lean and fast, keeping the new and memorable photos on your phone. The other photos and files can be downloaded when or if you need them.

The Verizon Cloud is actually well formatted, quick to access and easy to transfer back from.
To set it up, just launch the app, during the set up select what you want to have backed up continuously and your selections begin to back up.

To retrieve information, open the Cloud app, browse the storage, pick the file, download it to the phone. (The other 12 gigs of bad shots can stay off the phone. Of course, we always delete all those bad shots, don’t we? You can also delete them from the cloud, when you need to.)

*Access To Thousands of App Choices

Over 30 years of researching products has proven to me:

Within any given product type, there are only 1 or 2 truly exceptional products.

The same applies to Apps. of a specific type. Having a deep resource of Apps to choose from is great, but it also makes it harder to find the great Apps.

We continually work to identify those for you, helping to put the odds in your favor you’ll find the well designed, quality apps for your need.

Google Play apparently now has more apps than the iTunes App Store and continues to grow rapidly. It also has a reputation for having more Free or Free To Try apps in the race. So, plenty of choices.

*Durable, Life Rugged, Construction

Highly scratch resistant, durable “gorilla” glass, a tough “Kevlar” case and a design that helps prevent damage means you keep working life longer.

But all phones can be damaged, no matter how well made.

In our research and testing, you can cut the phone damage factor by 50-60% just by putting a quality case on it from the beginning.

The pure form of the phone design is more attractive without it. But your phone lives in a rough and tumble world, not a museum. (You wouldn’t take a Faberge Egg out into the world, kick it, drop it, drive off with it on the roof of your car and expect it to survive?) 

But we do expect our expensive, slim, multifunction, portable supercomputer to take whatever happens to it.

At $500-$900 to replace the phone, I take it out of the case once in a while, admire it, then wrap it back in it’s durable shield.

*Broad Carrier Coverage Within Your Area

Ultimately, a great deal of a smartphone’s multi-tasking ability (like continuing to get your Navigation instructions while simultaneously on a phone call) relies on having a good 3G and 4G simultaneous signal. That comes down to carrier coverage and the ability of the individual smartphone to hold on to those signals. 

I’m on the Verizon network because it works best where I live and more of the places I travel. I’ve also had very positive experiences with their customer service over many years and the Droid Maxx is only available on the Verizon network at this time.  But your decision always needs to work best for you in your area and in your circumstances. 

So, Don’t buy products because the marketing says it’s great. Or reject a product because the first few reviews say it stinks.  Connect with people who do the work and help you understand what products really are good and why. Then pick what’s good for your needs.

All the best,

Paul

——————————————

Below are the Specifications for the Droid Maxx:

Connectivity
Bluetooth® Technology 1
Bluetooth Version 4.0 LE+EDR
GPS and location services 2
eCompass/Standalone GPS/aGPS (assisted)/AGPS (autonomous)/sGPS (simultaneous)
Wi-Fi
802.11 a/b/g/n
Networks
US Network: LTE, CDMA/1xEVDO Rev. A (800/1900 MHz)
Global Network: EDGE/GSM (850/900/1800/1900), HSPA/UMTS( 850/900/1900/2100), HSDPA 42.2 Mbps (Category 20), HSUPA 5.76 Mbps LTE B13/4 700/1700
Display
Display
HD 720p (720×1280 pixels)
Interface
Operating system
Android™ 4.4 KitKat
Physical
Size
71.2mm (x) x 137.5mm (y) x 8.5mm (z)
Display size
5 in.
Weight
167g
Power
Battery type
3500 mAh, up to 48 hours of mixed usage Wireless inductive charging available
Google Mobile Services
Google Play™
Gmail™
Google Drive™
Google Maps™ Navigation
Google Calendar™
Google Maps™
Google Contact Sync™
Google Play™ Music
Google Chrome for Android
Google Street View™
Google Plus™
Google + Hangout™
Technology
Architecture
Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System, which is comprised of a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4Pro family processor (1.7GHz Dual-Core Krait CPU, 400 MHz quad-core Adreno 320 GPU), a natural language processor and a contextual computing processor.
Memory 4
2GB DDR RAM 16GB storage
Accelerometer
Ambient Light Sensor
Barometer
Gyroscope
Magnetometer
Near Field Communication (NFC)
Proximity sensor
Camera
Rear-Facing Camera
10MP CLEAR PIXEL (RGBC) – Quick Capture – LED flash – 1080p HD video (30 fps) – 4X digital zoom – Slow motion video – Burst mode – Auto HDR – Panorama – Tap to focus
Front Camera
2 MP
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